So you want to hire a DJ but you don't know what to expect at your ceremony? Or you are DJing your own wedding and you want to know how? If you follow these five easy tips, you will have a flawless ceremony that runs perfectly with great music.
1. Light music should be playing when your guests arrive
Your guests will probably arrive about 30 minutes before the ceremony is scheduled to start. While they find their seats, there should be music playing at a light volume. They will be speaking quietly, or not at all, so set the volume accordingly.
But what type of music should you choose to play while your guests are arriving? Some people like to keep it traditional, while others just pick soft, romantic songs in a genre they like (try to avoid anything too energetic or sexy). Vitamin String Quartet is very popular with my clients. They do classical versions of contemporary (and classic) pop songs.
2. Most couples choose two processional songs and one recessional.
Most couples pick one song for the bride to walk to, often with her parents, and one song for everyone else. Pick a song that is special to you that has a similar vibe to what I explained above. Soft and romantic works great.
For the recessional, pick a happy energetic song that pops. And pump up the volume because your guests will be cheering. Any genre is fine.
If you are doing the music yourself, designate someone to man the iPod (preferably someone who hasn't started drinking yet). While transitioning between songs, have them bring the volume all the way down to zero. This helps get your guests' attention for what is coming next without making an announcement. Have a backup iPod loaded up (just in case) and make sure they are both fully charged. And like I said above, turn the music up for the recessional!
3. Live Musician
It's very common to have live music at a wedding ceremony and it can be beautiful. A guitar player, violinist or trio are what I've seen most. They will tell you what type of music they can provide and can suggest something too.
They will probably need a mic, which your DJ can provide. If you are doing it yourself, make sure the mic stand can go low in the case of a guitarist (usually they will be sitting down). On the other hand, many guitars have a jack which you can connect to your speaker for amplification.
4. Keep the music playing while guests go to cocktail hour
After your ceremony concludes you and your wedding party (if you have one) will exit first, then your guests will begin to head to cocktail hour. Usually this takes 5 minutes or more and there are always a few stragglers.
I suggest letting the recessional play out and then playing another song after. By the time the second song finishes most people will have left and it's fine to turn the music off. If you are not using a DJ, this is when your ceremony DJ can start drinking.
5. Mic and speakers
What I usually provide at ceremonies is a wireless mic to the officiant and another one to the guests in case any of them will be speaking during the ceremony. Mics will also be provided to any musicians as stated above. And I suggest having a mic stand ready. Many officiants want their hands free because they are holding a book or paper.
If you are the DJ for your own wedding you also will need a speaker for the ceremony to amplify the mic and/or music. It can get tricky so I suggest a speaker/mic combo. This one is especially good because it has the option of battery power, which comes in handy if your ceremony is going to be in a meadow or on the beach.
Additional tips: In general, I don't recommend lavalier mics for ceremonies because they are very sensitive. Also, if you are having your ceremony near water you may encounter interference from boat radios if you use a wireless mic. After having a bad experience once, I always recommend a wired mic for waterside events.
So to wrap it up, whether you use a DJ at your ceremony or not, if you follow the steps above it will be amazing.
6. Bonus tip - Ask me for help
“The dance floor was packed all night, but more than that, he handled all of the little things incredibly well: Amplification for the ceremony, adjusting the schedule on the fly with the caterers and working with the coordinator to make sure things moved seamlessly all night.”
Joel W., Moretown, VT
"Ben was easy to work with and made us feel confident that no matter what the venue was capable of, he'd be prepared to deliver in all circumstances. And he did! It was a total blast, exactly what we wanted."
Amy M., Brooklyn, NY
If you're planning a wedding or event and want help packing your dance floor, email me or text or call me at 917.586.6753. I'm a Brooklyn wedding DJ but happy to travel throughout the northeast and beyond.